Scrub a Dub Dub

Swap Your Expensive Exfoliators for Simple, Skin-Loving Ingredients


Who says copious quantities of sugar aren’t good for your health?

Well, it may depend on how you use the sugar — ingesting huge quantities may be unhealthy, but sugar can be surprisingly effective when used in a mix as a facial scrub and exfoliator. It can also be good for your wallet, when compared with the cost of commercial preparations.

Sugar generally is considered to be gentle on the skin. However, some people with sensitive skin might experience irritation, so it’s important to consult a dermatologist before trying anything new. A patch test can also be valuable when starting a different routine. Dermatologists recommend using a moisturizer immediately after face scrubs and exfoliators.

It can be surprising how many other foods also have health benefits. Coffee, eggs, oatmeal, and fruits like banana and strawberry can be incorporated in a skincare routine, as well as rose petals. In addition, finely ground oatmeal, cinnamon, ground rice, and small quantities of baking soda are gentle enough to use on the skin as a scrub.

To create a scrub, select which food you will use, and then select a carrier oil. Common carrier oils to consider include almond, avocado, coconut, jojoba, and olive. Essential oils also can be used. It’s important that your carrier oil is room temperature and liquid. Although it is best to make the scrub just before you use it, it is also possible to make some extra and store it for later in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

Once mixed, apply your scrub to cleansed skin in gentle circles for about 1 minute, let it sit on your skin for 1-2 minutes, then rinse your face thoroughly.

Here are some scrubs to start with, adapted from Healthline. 

Aloe Vera Sugar Scrub
(Thirsty skin loves this one!)

Aloe vera gel, 1 tablespoon, preferably straight from the plant
Sugar, 1-1/4 teaspoons, or more if preferred
Olive oil

Brown Sugar or Honey Sugar Scrub
(Great for exfoliation and moisture)

Sugar of choice, 1/2 cup
Carrier oil of choice, can be coconut, olive, almond
Honey, 1-1/2 tablespoons
Essential oil of choice, few drops, if desired

Green Tea Sugar Scrub
(Perfect for exfoliation, and the tea has antioxidant properties)

Green tea bags, 2 steeped in 1/2 cup very hot water, leave bags in until liquid is cool
Brown sugar, 1-1/4 cups
Coconut oil, 1/4 cup melted

Rose Scrub
(Offers gentle exfoliation that leaves skin plump and glowing)

Rose petals, 12
Rose oil, 9 drops
Water, 1-1/2 teaspoons
Sugar of choice, 1 cup
Honey, 2 tablespoons, raw preferred

Oatmeal Scrub
(Exfoliating and soothing) 

Rolled oats, 1/3 cup uncooked and finely ground
Honey, 2 tablespoons raw
Carrier oil of choice or a mashed banana and Greek yogurt as carrier

Coffee Scrub
(Anti-inflammatory properties soothe irritation with a side of gentle exfoliation)

Coffee, 1 cup finely ground as for pour-over
Brown sugar, 1 cup
Avocado and coconut oils, 2 tablespoons each

Calming Face Scrub for Acne
(Adapted from

Plain yogurt, 1 cup
Almond meal, 1/3 cup
Mashed strawberries, 1/2 cup
Raw apple cider vinegar, splash

Mix thoroughly, lightly blend onto skin, leave 15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with warm water.

Anti-aging Face Scrub
(Adapted from

Grape seed oil, 3 tablespoons
Almonds, 6 teaspoons ground
Honey, 1-1/2 teaspoons warmed
Rose oil or oil of choice, 3 drops

Mix thoroughly together, buff onto face and decolletage gently, then rinse with warm water.

Turmeric and Sugar Scrub
(Adapted from

Turmeric powder, 1-1/2 tablespoons
Sugar of choice, 1-1/2 teaspoons
Honey, 1-1/2 teaspoons

Mix together thoroughly, apply gently and leave on your face for about 15 minutes, then wash with warm water. Turmeric is believed to help fight acne and lighten dark circles as well as helping slough off dead skin. Be careful, though, as turmeric stains clothing badly.

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